CUC ANNIVERSARY STATEMENT FROM MCCMB
The Metropolitan Community Church of Metro Baguio (MCCMB) stand in solidarity as we give praise to God for the establishment of yet another affirming Christian fellowship of the Christian United Church (CUC) in the Philippines one year ago. Under the leadership of God’s servant Rev. Pastor Regen Luna, the CUC stood firmly and boldly proclaiming one same message of God’s inclusive and universal love for all his children.
The MCCMB, together with MCCPh Makati and MCCQC takes pride in conducting the historic 1st LGBT mass wedding in the country that further opened the doorway of the Lord’s Church to many unknowing LGBT couple who are in a loving and responsible relationship. We are blessed to have with us the CUC Philippines to celebrate the Eucharist for the first time with MCC on that historic day which coincided with another historic international event in New York’s adoption of same-sex marriage.
The MCCMB is forever grateful of the CUC’s undeniable contribution in educating people about sex-positive theology and positively affirming spirituality. We believe that all faith-based community plays a vital role in transforming our society amidst the politics and differences within the LGBT community.
We commend the brave role Rev. Ptr. Regen Luna and his supportive family play in the formation and sustenance of CUC’s ministry to glorify our living God through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as we pray in union with other affirming faith groups that CUC continue to inspire and work for God’s greater glory and for all that shall further make the LGBT community here and abroad blossom and grow. May God’s blessing be upon us all!
Happy first founding anniversary to CUC Philippines!
PTR. MYKE A. SOTERO
Metropolitan Community Church of Metro Baguio
September 27, 2011
A month ago before Bishop Strong and I decided on the date of my ordination I became nervous because of my financial difficulties that I was having. I was thinking on how in the world will I get the money so that we could go through it. My family is having a hard time and we are having problems because our first house is facing a danger of for closure by the bank. Then here I am telling my family that I will be ordained and they also told me that where will I get the money for the celebration? I just prayed and ask the Lord what to do. I just said to God that if it is his will for me to be ordained then he should provide for me financially. Because we have to buy the necessary vestments for the ordination not to mention that a simple chasuble here in the Philippines costs around 2,000 Php! I was thinking what about the decorations, what about the food for the celebration, the transportation and also I will have to pay the driver because I don’t know how to drive. Many things were going through my mind but God led me to partially fast and pray for three days in preparation for my ordination.
WHEN GOD GIVES YOU A VISION HE WILL ALSO GIVE PROVISION
This was the message of Bishop Strong to me on my ordination. God didn’t fail me he provided every thing. I was talking to my friends in the US and two of them donated for the ordination. I was able to buy an alb for 1,000 pesos. I was able to design and print 3 designs for the tarpaulin that will be used as center for the altar. I was able to give my mother 2,000 pesos for the food for the visitors. I was able to give 1,000 pesos for the transportation, gasoline and payment for the driver. I just borrowed the red chasuble from IPL Art Ventayen praise God!!! MCCPhilippines also provided food and some of my special guests brought cakes. There was an over whelming of food on that day. We were able to give food for the care takers of that building that we rented for the ordination. IPL Egay also brought food, provided the fare of Pastor Myke from Baguio all the way to Manila and also he rented the place that we used. Brother Vinz helped with the music. Sis Gina helped me with the internet connection so that Bishop Strong might be connected via Skype. Bro. Mark donated 500 pesos and I used it for the gasoline payment. And Brother Van designed the table of the Lord with flowers that he bought also. IPL Art brought cake and so Atty. Angie. Brother Jed was our official photographer. Brother Val helped during the worship service. We also had 6 new visitors for that particular Sunday. All was happy and excited. Bishop Strong was right, when God gives you a vision he will also give you provision. Every thing was paid for. Every thing was accounted for. God did a miracle he provided for the ordination.
SPIRITUAL IMPORTANCE OF MY ORDINATION
1. My ordination tells me that Christ has already chosen me (John 15:16)
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you…”
2. Two denominations have affirmed my call to the ministry (John 8:17)
“It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true…”
The Christian United Church and the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit Philippines have affirmed my call to Christ’s ministry. The Holy Bible tells us that the testimony of two men is true. By my application of this verse in my life, two denominations have affirmed my call it means my calling is true, my calling is from God, my calling is not from men and two testimonies is enough to established that fact.
3. God sent me according to his heart (Jeremiah 3:15)
“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding…”
Bro. Val quoted this verse when he stood up for the encouragement on the offering. He told the congregation to bless the church and also to bless me. Praise God! He also quoted a verse in Matthew that when we honor a prophet people will also receive the prophets reward. And he testified on how I helped him to understand homosexuality and spirituality. IPL Lino wrote a letter on how I was used by God to feed MCC Philippines with God’s words and so is IPL Egay. This verse is one of my favorite verses in the Bible and I love the fact that I was one of those pastors according to the heart of God.
4. The Bible historically records the office of the Elders as ordained by the Apostles. (Acts14:23)
“And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed…”
I was ordained to the office or order of Elder in the Christian United Church and a priest in the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit Philippines. Bishop Strong has a historic episcopate from the Old Catholic Church and Bishop Mickley is also a former Roman Catholic Priest and was consecrated a Bishop by Bishop James Burch who is also from the Independent Catholic Movement. All of them has a historical episcopate that will be traced back to the Apostle Peter. Historic episcopacy or some calls it apostolic succession is very important because it gives the ordained the authority to administer the sacraments and oversee the church with spiritual, moral and religious validity. And I praise God for this great blessing! To God be the glory and praise!!!
5. Division in the body of Christ is not an option. I Corinthians 12:12 (NIV)
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ…”
I would like to share to all of you what Bishop Jim Burch of the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit wrote to Bishop Strong of the Christian United Church on the occasion of my ordination.
Dear Bishop Strong,
It was a joy to be able to have Regen Luna ordained into our two denominations. I looked at your web page and just posted this there:
“We are in resonance with your beautiful expression of Christianity. We honor the joy and love which shines forth in your church, and are delighted that Rev. Elder Luna was ordained simultaneously as CUC Elder and CDOS priest by Bishop Richard Mickley in Manila with the direction and blessing of Bishop Strong. The Body of Christ is now better! Many blessings to you all!”
Perhaps this will be the beginning of a stronger bond between our so-similar expressions of Living Jesus.
6. God’s calling is irrevocable. Romans 11:39 (ESV)
When God calls you, he doesn’t change his mind. You cannot run and you cannot hide. Abraham wanted to run, so is Moses, so is Jonah but eventually they ended up doing God’s will. And I was running through the ritual of the ordination my life flashed before me and I was there getting married to Christ.
Two years ago people were trying to destroy me to the left and to the right. But in due time I waited for the hand of God and He vindicated me in his right time. There is a saying that life begins at 40 and in my case its 5 years earlier. I give back all the glory and all the praise to our Truine God, our Creator, Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit. I also thank the Christian United Church and the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit. And I thank all of my brothers and sisters at MCC Philippines, my family, my friends, my partner and everyone who joined and witness this new stage of my life. God bless us all.
MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
My faith journey started in 1990 when I became a Born Again Christian and became an active member of a full gospel, bible based, Christ Centered, Spirit filled Church in Dasmariñas Cavite known as the Word of Life Christian Global Mission. The Holy Spirit came to me during this time and I was growing and maturing in the faith. In this church I learned to be a musician,a singer, a worship leader, a tambourine dance minister, a creative arts director, a Sunday school teacher and youth leader. So it was a very meaningful 8 years of my life. I was under the care of Spirit filled, pentecostal pastors. I was trained under the teachings of the Holy Spirit. I had a very good life, I loved the community, the fellowship, the ministries that was entrusted to me, and especially praise and worship. I was like a little David learning to be a musician and later on a dancer for God’s glory. I consider those one of my glorious days. I had experience learning the things of the Spirit. Faith healing, prosperity gospel, prophetic, apostolic doctrines and most especially our missionary trips to Bilibid Prison and the Manyan Tribes of Mindoro. I had the chance to get to know great missionary pastors like Pastor Gayarez who have made a large impact on my spiritual life and also my first spiritual father, Bishop Robert A. Neri Sr. who has been a good pastor to me until now.
WHEN SEXUALITY MEETS SPIRITUALITY
During those times while I was growing spirituality I was also growing physically and also sexually. I was having a hard time on reconciling my faith and what I really feel inside. My mind tells me that sexuality and spirituality could not meet. They cannot be mixed together. I was having a hard time accepting the truth, that I was gay and that I was a Christian. That was my problem. I tried fasting for a week just to drive out the “demon” in me. I also tried dating so that I could “change” my “abnormal” feelings. I tried exorcism to cast out the “devil” inside me. But to no avail. It didn’t change me. The harder I try it was very persistent. The longer I tried to hide the more the Holy Spirit convicted me that I was living a big big lie. So I needed to look for another spiritual path that would resolve my problem and in 2000 I met a former member of MCC Manila. To make the long story short I became an active member of MCC Manila and became an Assistant Pastor in training during the time of Rev. Edgar Mendoza. After the term of Rev. Mendoza he was succeeded by Interim Pastoral Leaders, Rev. Cj Agbayani, IPL Lino Tan Lee, IPL Bjorn San Diego and IPL Jojo Encelan.
ASSISTANT PASTOR IN TRAINING TURNED INTERIM PASTORAL LEADER.
In 2005, MCC Philippines was looking for a new Interim Pastoral Leader and I applied for the position and was installed as IPL on August 21, 2005. I am so happy that I had the chance to be an IPL of this church. It has taught me a lot for example GLBT Theology, ecumenism, sexuality and spirituality, HIV & AIDS awareness, sexually transmitted diseases, human rights advocacy, social concerns, pastoral counseling, church politics, church governance and marriage equality. I had the chance to get to know so many important figures especially those who are into the LGBT community who are fighting for our rights. I had the chance of conducting “Homosexuality is not a Sin not a Sickness Seminars in Bulacan, Quezon, De La Salle University -Manila, Asian Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary. I was interviewed on ABS-CBN Chanel 2 on “Pipol”, GMA 7’s “Jesicca Soho Reports” on QTV The 700 Club Asia and I was also featured on the New York Times and Korean International News. I also had the chance of conducting Holy Unions around the country. This was a very fulfilling and life-changing experience for me. In 2008 after serving MCC Philippines for three years I decided to rest so I resigned as IPL and focus on my professional life.
PASTOR CALLED TO BE AN ELDER OF THE CHRISTIAN UNITED CHURCH AND PRIEST OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF ONE SPIRIT.
At the end of 2008 several events happened to me that almost destroyed my entire life, a failed relationship, a failed ministry, people whom I loved destroyed me, and I was contemplating on committing suicide. People whom I loved, respected and cared for judged me, ridiculed me and criticized me negatively. But I kept my peace. I kept silent. I just prayed to God, that He/She will make a way for me and God did!!!
A pastor of my previous church told me that according to our elder he is not recognizing me as a pastor of any of their church. This pastor told me that I don’t have the authority to solemnize Holy Unions, even the sacraments because I don’t have a church. This pastor told me that my former elder is angry at me because according to them I destroyed their church. But they didn’t know the whole story, only God knows and my family. But I prayed I told God, that He/She should make a way for me.
After this event I was determined to change my life and forget about my religious or should I say spiritual life so I applied to be a call center agent and for 6 months I did the job. I had the money and the friends but deep inside I was very unhappy. I feel that I am not doing what am I suppose to do. The very reason why God created me. And so, I prayed to God that please make a way for me. And God did! In September of 2010 Holy Unions started to pour on me and also I became a member of the Christian United Church. In October 2010, I was appointed as Local Pastor of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd Church of God in union with the Christian United Church by H.E. Rev. Bishop David C. Strong, the Presiding Bishop of the Christian United Church denomination. After 7 months our small church had a chapel and we conducted at least 25 holy unions and we have at least 20 active members and still growing most of them are straight by the way.
God did make a way for me where there seems to be no way, says the song written by Don Moen. Yes God did it because his word tells us “For the gifts and calling of God is irrevocable” (Romans 11:29 ESV). We may resign as pastor or interim pastoral leader or any church position, but God’s calling is IRREVOCABLE. When God calls you, he calls you no matter what, God will not change his mind about it, even people will change their minds about you, but God will not, even churches and denominations will change their minds about you, but God will not. Because God know you, and God knows me very well even better than I know myself. Yes, God made a way for me. When people close their doors on me God opened a window for me.
On June 12, I will embark on another spiritual journey another challenge, a new calling. from being a musician, becoming a pastor, now an Elder of the Christian United Church and a Priest for the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit. Two denominations or Christian Communities all in one accord in proclaiming that God is calling me again. I may not be perfect. But God called me. I may not be the best. But God called me. I may not be as good as the others. But God called me. Because God believes in me, and I believe in God. To God be the Glory and Praise!!!
ANNOUNCEMENT ON FACEBOOK
The Christian United Church welcomes Regen Luna, as a licensed Local Pastor and candidate for ordination as a Elder in Full Connection, after the completion of additional formation. He will be planting a community in the Philippines. Visit our website for additional information about the Christian United Church. The CUC is currently engaged in ministry in the United States and Poland. We are excited to bring a new inclusive Christian community to the Philippines.
ANNOUNCEMENT ON CHRISTIANUNITEDCHURCH.NING.COM
Regen Luna has been accepted as Candidate for Ordination and as a Licensed Local Pastor in the Christian United Church. Pastor Luna will continue to prepare for pastoral and theological studies to be received as Elder in Full Connection by the Annual Conference of the Christian United Church.
Regen is from Dasmarimas, Philippines. He completed a Bachelor’s in History from DeLaSalle University In 2001 and has studied Theology at various graduate institutions. He has served as Associate Pastor, MCC Manila 2000-2001 and as Interim Pastoral Leader of MCC Philippines from 2005- 2008.
Pastor Regen will be developing a congregation in Dasmarinas named Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd Christian United Church. This will be the first church for the newly emerging Christian United Church with congregations currently in Poland and the United States.
Bishop David Strong, Bishop of the denomination, said “We welcome Pastor Regen into the connectional covenant community of the Christian United Church. He shares in the charism of the CUC to provide a ministry of inclusion which invites members of the LGBT community and our straight allies to become Disciples of Christ through communion and community”.
The Christian United Church is a denomination with a Methodist polity that is inclusive and centered on the spiritual practice of weekly Holy Communion and the means of grace and mercy in our daily life. For more information visit www. christianunitedchurch.net